Research — Secondary Research

Within the second week of this project I carried out research into different aspects of the brief. This included investigating Baxter & Bailey’s own approach to the Royal Mail stamp brief, finding existing stamp sets that I find inspiring, looking at potential competitors and researching into my chosen theme.

Initially, I completed research into Baxter & Bailey. Although from the module launch I had a brief understanding of their values as a design agency, I felt it was important to research them further to fully get an understanding of their work and how they demonstrate their values within their projects. My initial thoughts on Baxter & Bailey were that they are passionate about the work they complete and are passionate about their clients ambitions and needs. The clients they take on must follow the same values that they do, as an agency they have a desire to create work that is going to have a long lasting positive impact on their audience. Following the research, I found that these thoughts were completely accurate. They communicate their values clearly and at no point while looking through their projects did I question the purpose behind their work.

As Baxter & Bailey have been approached by the Royal Mail twice to create special issue stamp sets, I felt that looking at them was vital in my initial research. With a better understanding of their values and how they approach a brief I wanted to investigate their final outcomes.

In 2020, a Queen set of stamps was released; these being created by Baxter & Bailey. The agency were extremely successful in depicting the band in a commemorative manner while capturing both the primary and secondary audience. These stamps were recognised globally, getting acknowledgement online, through news broadcasts and in print.

Two sets of stamps were released. One being made up of eight vinyl Queen albums and the other consisting of live performance photography and an iconic band line up photograph shot by Johnny Dewe-Matthews in 1974.

The hand stamps are commemorative of iconic well-known Queen songs. Written in typefaces that somewhat associate with the phrases. The left stamp being written in a typeface similar to the Queen logo, the middle having strokes coming off the B as though it is blowing, and the right being in a sans serif typeface which is generally associated with rock music due to its bold manner.

The next set of research that I completed was into existing stamps created by other design agencies. A set of stamps were included in the brief launch as an example was Visions of the Universe by True North. Released in 2020 these stamps are commemorative of the 200th anniversary of the Royal Astronomical Society.

I was particularly inspired by the stamps as they use colour successfully to create a dramatic effect and have an impact on the audience — something that I want to do within my stamp set and presentation pack. I noted ways in which True North had done this. The background in which the stamps are on is a dark blue. This element assists in creating an impact, the contrast between the dark background and bright colours makes the illustrations appear more vibrant.

Another set of special issue stamps I was inspired by was the Video Games stamps designed by Supple Studio. This being another example shown within the module launch but I felt that due to the uniqueness of the set it was important to include them in my research.

The purpose of the stamp set was to celebrate games from the 1980s and 1990s. Supple Studio collaborated with Bitmap Books to create the set of stamps and presentation pack. Scenes from different games were chosen and placed on the stamps, as within gameplay, there are ‘Easter Eggs’ within the stamps. ‘Easter Eggs’ are hidden elements within a game that can only be found through unconventional gameplay. Within the stamps these are the hidden messages on the stamps that can only be seen when a UV light is positioned above them. This key element is important in capturing the audience, it is something that the target audience can relate to as finding hidden content within a game is an exciting part of gameplay. The typefaces and quotes were taken directly from the games to depict each of the games accurately — again this is important in relating to the target audience to help the commemorative and nostalgic nature of the stamps.

My next piece of research involved looking at the special stamp sets on the Royal Mail website. As there are 50 years of stamps to look at, I felt it was important to see what topics and themes are in existing stamps. The themes include medicine, literature, animals/natural world, politics, science/engineering/space and many more. Through my previous stamp set-specific research and looking at the other existing Royal Mail stamps it became clear that a lot of the stamps have a purpose of commemorating a specific topic. For example, Jane Austen, Pink Floyd, Ladybird Books, British Paintings and the Battle of Hastings. As a lot of the stamps were not particularly bringing anything new to the topic that they were representing, I thought that this could be something that I could add to my stamp set — a twist of my own.